Long lines of mourners formed on Achill Island yesterday evening (Friday) for a ceremony in memory of local man Finbar Cafferkey who was killed in Ukraine last month.
The ceremony was addressed by the 45-year-old’s parents, Tom and Celine, as well as other family members.
Tom revealed that his eldest son was killed near Bakhmut on April 19 along with two Ukranian comrades when “they came under heavy and sustained mortar fire.”
Mr. Cafferkey told mourners and sympathisers at a packed function in Ted Lavelle’s Pub, Achill Island, that efforts are continuing to find his eldest son’s remains so that they can be repatriated.
“We’ll bring him home, le cunamh de”, he said in a voice heavy with emotion.
Large queues formed outside the pub – once run by Finbar’s parents - to sympathise with the military volunteer’s parents, Tom and Celine, his brothers Eamon and Colm, his sisters, Maeve and Orla and extended family.
Amongst the hundreds who attended was a group of about 40 Ukranians, now living in Westport. They carried a large wreath which proclaimed: “To our hero, Finbar Cafferkey. From all Ukranians.”
Finbar’s mother, Celine, spoke of his passion for the many and varied activities he was involved in.
“His actions were propelled by things he felt deeply in his heart,” Mrs. Cafferkey continued.
“If he felt the truth of something he followed his heart.
“But to me he was my gasur. I loved him for a lot of reasons but as he grew older I just loved him for his steadfast honouring of the truth and how he defended people who were marginalised, wherever that might happen.
“He wasn’t limited by borders or flags or by the colour of skin. He had a heart for all humanity, He just didn’t die with courage. He lived with courage.”
After a moving rendition of Raglan Road by her daughter, Finbar’s sister, Maeve, spoke expressing gratitude to those “who led the way for Finbar to live life the way he chose to.”
She also expressed gratitude for the writers who influenced her brother, the friends who loved him, the people who shaped him and his thinking and the causes that called him.
Mrs. Cafferkey continued: “I want to offer our compassion to anyone suffering injustice or oppression and also to the Ukranian people whose struggle is continuing and to anyone whose voice is quietened.
“May courage and kindness overcome fear and hurt.”
A recording of a song written by Finbar Cafferkey – a talented musician – “The Lovely Glengad Strand”. in support of the Shell to Sea campaign was played to the packed gathering.
Members of Achill GAA Club, of which Finbar’s brother, Colm, is an official, were prominent amongst the large gathering. Large crowds continued to offer their condolences long into the night.